Tuesday, March 08, 2011

1 Sem 2011 - Part Seven

Luca Lapenna
Words For Evans

by Mr. Claudio Botelho
You’re right: this is one more homage to the great Bill Evans! There you have it: “My Bells”; “Turn out the Stars”; “Peri’s Scope”; “Only Child”; “One for Helen”; “The two Lonely People”; “Very Early”; “Time Remembered”; “Waltz for Debby”; “Another Time, Another Place” and a song named “Ending” which ends the recording.
Four of the Evans songs received lyrics from Lapenna himself (Peri’s Scope; Only a Child; One for Helen and Time Remembered), two others were penned by the bass player of the group (Another time, Another Place) and the remaining (Ending) was composed by Lapenna and his piano player.
Lapenna made it at the end of 1995, entering January of 1996. You’re wrong: this work is really from the middle nineties! There isn’t any misprint here!
- Hey, Claudio, we’re in 2011, come on! Don’t you think you’re a little late?
- No, I’m not: good music; honesty; sincere praise; sensible renderings; shivering emotions are atemporal subjects!
- Oh, man, there are some hundreds of homages like this…
- No, my friend, not LIKE this!
- Why not?
- ‘Cause you can feel all throughout the performances a deep emotional charge, a comprehensive understanding of that composer’s soul, a profound respect for the mood of each song; all this without any abdication of the jazz language, as we come to know and admire…
- Really?
- You bet, man, you bet! Lapenna’s diminutive voice, backed by some equally inspired musicians, did his best by overcoming his low register limitations, sometimes on the verge of ruining a song, other times trembling with emotion! The sparsely presentations give the listener a chance to enjoy everything: from his smallest intonations, to every music inflexions of his cohorts which, as a whole, merged in a unity of sublime identification with the soul of that composer…
- You’re kidding me, they aren’t even Americans!...
- You’re right: they are not, but they sported a deep admiration for Mr. Evans and their music spoke clearly of this. You can see this through the muted trumpet, across the delicate fingered piano or the work of the attentive bass and drums players.
- Wow!
- Yes, Wow! Thanks Luca Lapenna; thanks Paolo Fresu (tr. & fl); thanks Alberto Tacchini (p); Thanks Atillo Zanchi (b) and thanks Giampero Prina (d). Many thanks.
- So, let´s turn out the stars?
- We may try…

João Bosco & NDR Big Band
Senhoras do Amazonas

by Dr. Leandro Rocha
O mineiro João Bosco surpreende mais uma vez ao lançar esse disco gravado na Alemanha acompanhado da NDR Big Band formada por músicos competentíssimos que souberam se adequar perfeitamente às harmonias fantásticas da música desse genial compositor. O CD tem 10 músicas,das quais 7 são de Bosco e 3 de Tom Jobim,o grande homenageado,revisitado através de Desafinado(com Newton Mendonça) numa performance estonteante de João,Chega de saudade(com Vinicius de Moraes) e Angela,numa interpretação arrasadora! Os temas de autoria de João já são conhecidos mas recebem um tratamento diferente das gravações originais. O clima é jazzístico,muitas vezes,desde o rock Bate um Balaio(uma homenagem a Jackson do Pandeiro) ,passando pelos sambas empolgantes como Nação e Pretaporter de tafetá até às baladas (João Bosco é mestre nelas) Bodas de prata,Saída de emergência e Senhoras do Amazonas. Embora não encontremos nenhuma música inédita,o encontro de João Bosco com a NDR Big Band foi revigorante para a música desse extrordinário compositor,cantor e violonista. Nossos ouvidos e nosso espírito agradecem.

Emilie-Claire Barlow
The Beat Goes On

by David Churchill 
In December 2008, my wife and I saw Canadian jazz singer, Emilie-Claire Barlow, perform a Christmas-centric concert at Markham Theatre north of Toronto. Markham Theatre is a wonderful place to see concerts because the acoustics are great and the space is relatively intimate. Barlow on that night was in a fine fettle. She sang wonderfully (in English and French) and had a great deal of off-the-cuff fun with the audience. As befits a concert in Markham, afterwards Barlow spent another hour in the lobby signing CDs for audience members. When we got to the front of the line my wife, who is trilingual (English, French and Spanish), asked Barlow if she spoke French. Barlow admitted she did not and that she always sang the songs phonetically.
Talking afterwards, my wife and I were astonished how near perfect her phrasing was, not just in her English-language songs, but her French ones too. This near-perfect phrasing is evident all over her new CD, The Beat Goes On. The CD is Barlow's jazz tribute to the pop songs of the 1960s. She's not the first jazz singer to do this, but this might be the best. Ranging from Burt Bacharach to Buffy Sainte-Marie to Sonny Bono to Bob Dylan, Barlow's choices are frequently inspired. She has taken many very recognizable tunes and, with skilful rearrangements, crafted songs I may have liked at one time, but since have grown tired of (Bacharach's “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”), or songs I never liked to begin with (Neil Sedaka's “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”) and given them a spin that makes them fresh and rejuvenated.
Doing all her own arrangements, she sometimes reduces the start of songs to just her voice, hand claps and double bass (Donovan's “Sunshine Superman”) creating an aural soundscape that brings you into the song anew. She completely alters Sonny Bono's mildly irritating “The Beat Goes On” by combining it with snippets of Bosso Nova beats, plus snatches from the theme song to the old Canadian game show, Definition (via the rap band The Dream Warriors' 1991 reinterpretation), to make it into an exhilarating creation.
She even takes a whirl at Portuguese in her interpretation of “Little Boat (O Barquinho)” when she sings one verse of the song, impeccably, in that language. The only misstep on the CD is with the Buffy Saint-Marie song, “Until It's Time for You to Go.” The English version, which I always found too pleading, is given a beautifully wistful reading here. Unfortunately, her decision to do it again, in French (under the title “T'es Pas Un Autre”), was too much. Again, her phrasing is wonderful, but the song comes across like filler or a sop to the Quebecois market.
That probably is just nitpick, because if an album of 13 tracks has only one misstep (albeit a well-sung misstep), that is still quite an achievement. Barlow is gradually developing a career that I can easily see following the same path of Michael Bublé or Diana Krall. I just hope she keeps her big, funky heart firmly in place.

George Benson
Songs and Stories

by Howard Dukes
If you're a jazz guitar fan of a certain age, you might be a big fan of Wes Montogmery, Kenny Burrell or the recently departed Les Paul. There probably aren't too many people around who recall Django Reinhart or Charlie Christian. Younger music fans might like smooth jazz artists like Norman Brown. The jazz guitarist of my generation was George Benson. As a force in popular music, it could be said that Benson reached the heights as a crossover artist that Montgomery might have reached had he not died suddenly in 1968. Montgomery was scoring pop his in the mid-1960s with his originals like "Bumpin'" and covers of rock songs and is basically one of the early adaptors of what came to be known as contemporary jazz. Benson, who also came up playing straight-ahead jazz in the 1960s, reached a level that few instrumentalists attain these days. The major reason for Benson's success is that he had one thing that greats like Montgomery did not have - a good singing voice.
That voice scored Benson chart topping and Grammy winning records in the 1970s and 1980s - "This Masquerade," "The Greatest Love of All," "Give Me the Night," Love X Love" and "Turn Your Love Around," just to name a few. Since the mid-1970s, Benson has made a career of showcasing a voice that has great range and sensitivity with some great jazz guitar improvisation.          
Benson uses that same formula on his latest CD Songs and Stories. The CD is a mix of original compositions written by guests such as Bill Withers and remakes of classic songs such as "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight." The record also features guest appearances by players such as Norman Brown who count Benson as a major influence.
Benson's originals are loved, but his work as a cover artist is underrated. Of course, he remade "Love Ballad," "Star of the Story" and "Moody's Mood." However, three of my favorite Benson remakes were his 1990 covers of "Here, There and Everywhere," "Starlight" and "You Don't Know What Love Is," that appeared on the  overlooked album Tenderly. I liked all three because Benson's vocals were excellent, but also his guitar work was among the best I've heard on a contemporary jazz record.
Benson is his creative best on Songs and Stories. He seems to know that the instrumental solos are competing for space with the vocals and the flourishes he adds at the end of each line of vocals and his extended solos are all memorable. The same can be said of Benson's guitar work on the cover of Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free."
The originals provide a balance ranging from the friendly up-tempo guitar duel that Benson and Brown wage on "Nuthin' But A Party," to the mid-tempo ballad "Family Reunion." Songs and Stories also sports several instrumental tunes that showcase Benson's ability to bring the kind of improvisation and communication with the other players that is often missing from many contemporary jazz tracks. Songs and Stories is a CD that the legion of Benson fans will like, and the album has enough cross over potential to draw the casual listener as well. Recommended.

Trichotomy (Sean Foran/ John Parker/ Pat Marchisella)

by John Fordham
The EST and Bad Plus connections are pretty clear in the music of this decade-old Australian trio, but the compositions of pianist Sean Foran and drummer John Parker impart a lot of character to its take on contemporary jazz fusion, and it shares with both of its major ­models a group ability to shift seamlessly ­between structures and ­spontaneity. ­Trichotomy's early enthusiasm for fellow-Australian band the Necks is also apparent in a ­fondness for lengthy ­pulsating one-note patterns and the subtle animation it injects into the most spacious and slow-moving episodes. The fast Latin pulse of the opening track, with its flowing piano lines over an intricate left-hand ­repeat and abruptly hushed and dreamy ­countermelody exploits the Bad Plus's appealing jump-cut style, as does the following slow floater with its Jarrett-like piano upsurge midway. A violin, viola and sax offer a caressing contrast over an ostinato and a snappy groove on the fourth track, as does ­Peter Knight's Arve Henriksen/late-Miles trumpet later on. Sometimes the band offers 21st-­century updates on a bright, dancing, Chick Corea-like lyricism: sometimes a fierce improv edge deploying Patrick Marchisella's electronically distorted acoustic bass; sometimes a tumbling hard-bop piano approach but over a ­castanet-like ­chatter; sometimes plucked-strings musings. These three make the resources of the conventional piano trio go a long way.

Spike Wells, Gwilym Simcock, Malcolm Creese

by The Vortex 
Leader/drummer Spike Wells traces his love affair with the piano trio to his first exposure to the likes of Hampton Hawes and Wynton Kelly in the 1950s and 1960s, but he also namechecks Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Enrico Pieranunzi and Brad Mehldau before lavishing praise on his partner on this recording, Gwilym Simcock, whom he calls 'the best pianist I have ever played with', and goes on: 'I suspect in the end he will be regarded as the greatest pianist this country has ever produced.'
Praise indeed, but even brief exposure to Simcock's constantly inventive contributions to the standards on this album ë a lightly tripping 'Falling in Love with Love', an increasingly adventurous exploration of 'Secret Love', a mesmeric, mellifluous visit to 'You Don't Know What Love is', a stunning 'My Funny Valentine' ë explains his enthusiasm.
Like numerous contemporary pianists (Mehldau himself, Lynne Arriale chief among them), Simcock infuses a perfectly honed 'classical' technique with 'jazz' sensibility (the need for inverted commas a sign of how successful they've been in seamlessly combining the two).
There are few listening experiences as rewarding and pleasurable as following a lively musical mind seeing how far it can stretch the rhythmic and melodic limits of a chord sequence; Simcock delights and surprises on every cut of this excellent album, richly fulfilling the promise discernible in his extraordinary collaboration with Lee Konitz in Cheltenham a year or so ago.
Wells himself is at the heart of the group sound, nudging, urging, stoking the trio's fire; bassist Malcolm Creese is his customary unselfish, sonorous, faultless self, but it is Simcock who attracts and holds the attention throughout a fine (72-minute) recording. Recommended.

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